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Green Alliance: Extending landfill bans would recover £2.5 billion in resources annually

Green Alliance : 22 March, 2013  (Special Report)
New research by Green Alliance shows that the policies preventing cars and waste electronics from going to landfill have been effective at improving recycling rates and increasing the resource value recovered from discarded products. If food, textiles, wood, and plastics had landfill restrictions similar to those already used for cars and waste electronics, at least £2.5 billion worth of resources would be kept in production each year.
Green Alliance: Extending landfill bans would recover £2.5 billion in resources annually

92% of discarded mobiles were sent to landfill in the US in 2009, whereas, in the UK, 25% of mobiles were recovered in 2010, with recovery rates expected to be 80% by 2020. The main difference is that there is a landfill diversion policy in the UK.

Similarly, in 2003, the UK spent £88 million landfilling and collecting illegally dumped cars. A policy introduced later that year, to prohibit dumping and landfilling, has since reaped £29 million in recovered resources.

Dustin Benton, senior policy adviser at Green Alliance, said: “It seems obvious that the rising cost of raw materials should automatically keep many materials out of landfill, but we’re burying most of this value in the ground. Landfill is still the default option. Gradually banning valuable materials from landfill would stimulate better collection and recycling infrastructure and, as our research shows, there’s £2.5 billion to be gained from reclaiming more resources each year.”

“Our previous work showed that landfill bans in the US and EU helped recover materials. This report shows that well designed landfill restrictions have pushed us to capture much more value from resources in the UK too. It no longer makes sense to let valuable materials end up in landfill.”

  • The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive (effective in the UK from 2007) requires increasing levels of electronics to be diverted from landfill and into recycling.
  • The End of Life Vehicles (EoLV) directive (effective in the UK from 2003) requires increasing proportions of vehicles scrapped in the EU to be diverted from landfill.

Why we need landfill bans, March 2013

US Environmental Protection Agency, Electronics Waste Management in the United States Through 2009

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